A Root-for-the-Home-Team Point

Dr. Hart invokes John 4 to describe his attendance of Mass while in Rome.  You needn’t worry about him swimming the Tiber any time soon, though.

I couldn’t help but think that U.S. Roman Catholics who worship in Rome must feel a tad underwhelmed when they return to their home parish. Rome simply has more stuff than Lansing, Michigan. In fact, place seems to matter for Roman Catholicism in ways that rival Judaism and Islam — certain locales are holy and function as the spiritual capital for the faith. 

In comparison, I can return to the States (in a week or so) after worshiping with Presbyterians in Dublin and Edinburgh and not think twice about missing the liturgical bling — and I can say that even while admitting Presbyterianism’s debt to the Scots, and to the charms of what might qualify as Presbyterianism’s capital city — Edinburgh. For Presbyterians, worship doesn’t depend on the tie between the minister and another church official, nor does it include relics or objects that point to holy persons who inhabited that space. The services in Dublin and Edinburgh were not any more special or meaningful because they were closer to Presbyterianism’s original space. 

That would seem to confirm Jesus’ point to the Samaritan woman at the well that Christian worship depends not on place or space but on word and Spirit. Sure, that’s a root-for-the-home-team point. But it does account for the lack of liturgical envy among New World Presbyterians. On the other side of the Atlantic, the Spirit and the word are just as much a part of worship as in the Presbyterian heartland.

Organic, everyday substance

Every now and then, an article like this one in the American Conservative will come out.  William Brafford of First Things brings up an important factor that may be overlooked:

I have many other thoughts on the search for what may ultimately be considered “sensuality” in worship, but I found this paragraph to be rather notable, emphasis mine:

For high-school English teacher Jesse Cone, joining the Orthodox Church fulfilled a deep yearning for community and sacramental reality. Cone grew up in the Presbyterian Church of America, heavily involved in youth group and church activities. While attending Biola University, an evangelical school in southern California, Cone returned home over the summers to help lead youth-group activities. He was hired as a youth pastor and “even preached a sermon.” But at Biola, Cone struggled to find a home church. There were many megachurches in the area that didn’t have the “organic, everyday substance” Cone was seeking.

I identify strongly with the repulsion from megachurch Christianity as found in Orange County in California, but the second half of the sentence seems a bit off.

Surely the ordinary means of grace as administered in the Reformation (see: Presbyterian) tradition represent a more earthy, everyday substance than the ornate, gilded and embroidered practice of the Eastern Orthodox.

For the Reformed & Presbyterian, a tradition which emphasizes salvation on the basis of free grace through Christ’s work, a righteousness imputed by faith on the authority of Scripture as God’s inspired Word, sufficient for all of faith and practice.  A tradition which allows the farmer to worship at the plow, doing all to the glory of God, knowing that his vocation and faith make him no less a man of faith than the pastor in the pulpit.  A tradition which brings faith into the every day, into the ordinary.

There is a reason the table bearing the Supper looks like the one you see in your home every day.

The church is not marketing herself to anyone

As a millennial who has benefited greatly from the wisdom and experience of the older, faithful believers in church, I love to see other millennials resisting the “cater to the young” church-growth tactic.
The church is not marketing herself to anyone.  She is not accountable to the powers and trends of this world.  She is accountable to her Husband and King, Jesus Christ.
We don’t go to church to hang out, although there certainly is grace in fellowship.  We go to worship a risen Lord, a mighty Savior.

But if anything is misunderstood here, it’s not hipsters. It’s the Church. The true Church will keep right on doing what she’s been doing for thousands of years–preaching the Gospel, teaching the faith, administering the Sacraments–whether you try to change things or not. She’ll do her forgiveness thing, and she’ll be good at it. 

And in the meantime, we’ll just be here . . . being silly. The variable is us. Will we ever stop fretting about change and numbers and youth and AGH! long enough to sit back in the pew, forget about what time brunch at the country club starts, and simply receive what God has to give? We ought to. We better. 

The Lord knows what He’s doing. The Church is His. He will safeguard it, guide it, and do with it as He sees fit. So let’s lay off all the unnecessary and silly little fixes, shall we? Instead, let’s go to the spa or Applebee’s, have ourselves a pedicure or a beer, and revel in what our Lord does well . . . because there’s a lot of it. 

All of it, really.
You coming?
A Concerned Millenial

The week in review.

You’ll have to bear with me, I am still doing my best to work out what type of format I’d like to take moving forward.  I do enjoy a good rundown, so here’s mine:
Beautiful Eulogy – “Beautiful Eulogy
I’ve been listening to this album since their album was released in 2012, but you’d still be hard pressed to find a clearer presentation of the Gospel in hip-hop than Beautiful Eulogy, namely in the song bearing the name of the group.  
My favorite line: “How sweet the Gospel sounds to ears like mine, well acquainted with pain and strained relationships.”

From The Aquila Report, an article entitled

My Story: From Reformed Worship to Anglicanism and Back Again

My wife and I recently transitioned from an Acts 29 church to a PCA congregation, having been convicted of having our son baptized and the importance of liturgical, simple worship.  I do hope to write at length on the topic soon, but haven’t found the time.  Aside from the anecdotal side note, I found the above article to be illuminating and profitable to show how important corporate worship has been from the New Testament to the Reformation to today.
And now… another response to Rachel Held Evans…
Just kidding.
PS: I do have the ambition to write about my recent trip with my pastor to our presbytery meeting and a few other topics.  With a week off looming in the near future it just may happen!